I've noted before that American teens are over-educated and that the American education system fosters a ridiculous artificial social structure that doesn't reward teens for actually contibuting to society. It's also pretty obvious that teens are over-sexed, but I hadn't made the connection between the two issues the way Glenn Reynolds does by identifying teens as America's new leisure class.
Consider this analogy: Unmotivated teen-agers who are idling away their time in school, protected from the real world and supported by their parents, are more like welfare recipients than they are like responsible citizens. However, since the implementation of welfare reform has forced a degree of personal responsibility, illegitimacy rates are way down, and so are many other social pathologies associated with welfare dependency. Maybe what teen-agers need is some "welfare reform."Good stuff.
Perhaps if teen-agers were encouraged to take on adult responsibilities and win status and recognition in constructive ways, they'd probably start acting more like citizens, and less like a leisure class, with all the vices that have historically attended leisure classes.
If teen-agers weren't infantilized in so many other ways, they'd have a better base of judgment and self-respect, and could make better decisions about when they were ready to have sex and be more responsible about precautions and consequences when the time came.